Volunteers, visitors bask in Istana Hari Raya welcome

, National 4 minutes, 7 seconds


HUNDREDS of Istana Nurul Iman staff and volunteers worked behind the scenes to ensure visitors have a memorable experience at the Raya open house.

Among them were paramedic trainees from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), Rina Rohaida Ringkas and Nazurah Haziqah Hj Harun.

“This is our first time being on-duty at Istana Nurul Iman for its open house. It is actually an honour and our responsibility to make sure visitors will have a safe and enjoyable experience to meet His Majesty and Her Majesty on this special occasion,” said Rina.

Nazurah added that they are supporting paramedics from Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hjh Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital and the ‘flu desks’ of Istana Nurul Iman.

“Visitors have to pass through the ‘flu desks’ that were set up at the security checks. This is done with the heat sensing thermal imaging camera that we have here today.

“Their temperatures will be monitored and those with high fever will be directed to the clinics set up at the banquet hall to be attended by our medical officers who are on stand-by,” added Nazurah.

She noted that health personnel were also located at strategic points in the hall, including at the main gate.

Apart from those who have existing medical conditions, Nazurah said it is unlikely to have major infectious cases, and that common cases included senior citizens requiring wheelchairs, assisting special needs individuals and dizziness or lightheadedness.

“Despite having difficulties to walk, senior citizens and special needs individuals are still eager to come and meet our benevolent monarch and other members of the royal family, as this is a once-in-a-year opportunity. We always see them feeling very excited while queuing prior to the greeting session.”

A 21-year-old part-time waitress who wished to be known as Salwana, said, “I am here working as a part-timer. Even though it is a bit sad not to spend Hari Raya with my family but the lively atmosphere in the banquet hall soothes that feeling and it is exciting to see visitors from all walks of life coming to the palace to meet our beloved Sultan.”

Donning her dark maroon uniform and attending visitors at the banquet hall, Salwana said the experience is what matters and there is still an opportunity to celebrate Hari Raya with family as Syawal is a month-long.

Other uniformed personnel including the police, army and fire and rescue were also observed stationed at a number of points in the palace as well as lining up to greet His Majesty and the royal family.

Immigration and National Registration Department official stationed at the Belait District, Siti Normuhdeyah Hj Jalani told The Brunei Times that although the meeting with Her Majesty was brief and has been done annually, she felt the atmosphere is new every year.

“It has never been boring. It is the only time in the year that you get to meet the monarch and the royal family members,” she said.

“It is also a great opportunity to be part of the celebration with others from all over the world,” said Siti Normuhdeyah.

Fire and Rescue Department officer, Dk Masriani Pg Hj Tajuddin, said that Bruneians are blessed to have a caring monarch who provides meet-up session opportunity which is infrequent in other countries.

Dk Masriani, who has been in service for 13 years, said she managed to talk with Her Majesty and shook her hand.

“Her Majesty asked how long have I been working in the department and wish me good luck with future endeavour,” she said.

Meanwhile, Prison Department officer, Salwa @ Megawati Salleh, who has been in service for 15 years, said that she was grateful for the opportunity to talk to Her Majesty although she was busy greeting more than thousands of visitors during the ceremony.

“The junjung ziarah is the best time for the people in Brunei to meet His Majesty and Her Majesty in person. Both of them and the other royal family members stood up when greeting the people. We should appreciate that,” said the officer, who has been in the service for 15 years.

Meanwhile, David Thompson, who came from Texas of United States of America to visit the Sultanate for a week, expressed gratitude to be able to experience ‘real Bruneian life’.

“I really enjoy the atmosphere. I get to meet His Majesty and Her Majesty in person and also to enjoy the Bruneian cuisine and cakes. I like the tapak kuda (chocolate cake roll) very much,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mohd Pouriei from Iran, said he enjoyed the ‘first time’ experience in joining the masses during the greet and meet session.

His friend, Harun Suleiman from Kenya, said he would tell his family and friends back home about the great experience he had yesterday.

“It is amazing. I get to see all the people in different culture roaming in this beautiful palace, eager to meet the monarch and the rest of the royal family members,” said Harun.

The Brunei Times